Why Did the Church in Jerusalem Grow?
February 20, 2022
Pastor Craig Ledbetter
Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland
I. Review (Acts 2)
A. We are in Acts 2 - It was the Day of Pentecost!
B. Everybody today wants Pentecost’s power and miracles, but 90% of Acts chapter 2 is about Peter’s PREACHING!
1. Peter has preached about the coming Day of the Lord
2. And 3,000 repented and decided to follow Jesus the Messiah
3. Tongues didn’t save those men and women – hard, scary preaching did!
C. And that church in Jerusalem has a lot to teach us about being a vibrant, strong, healthy, and successful Church (Acts 2:41-47)
1. They had ‘Joy’ – they enjoyed everything about Church – a better culture than religion, and sports, and games, and entertainment
2. People got baptized – didn’t just stay in the shadows but came out into the open and declared they are now following the Saviour who died, and was buried and rose again for their forgiveness
3. The Christians became committed to the Church in Jerusalem – just like they had been to Judaism - they joined with the 120 other church members, and made it THEIR church now!
4. They were steadfast – unmoveable – consistent in all the important areas, lie:
a. Learning Bible Doctrine – relearning it – starting all over
b. In fellowshipping together – not just on occasion, but constantly
c. In breaking of bread for the Lord’s Remembrance Supper
d. And they were constant in praying! Talking with the Jesus they had ignored
D. That is an active Church – always in motion
E. Each of these actions and attitudes were like great Cogs and Gears in a powerful engine
1. When all the parts are working and in motion, you get great horsepower
a. When everyone is praying together
b. When everyone is assembling together
c. When everyone is soul-winning
d. When everyone is growing…
e. We will have a great church
2. But when the gears and pistons are not working, the engine loses power, and dies
3. So, If you want your children, and this nation to continue disintegrating, and to descend further into violence and ruin, then just keep doing what you are already doing – ignore me and this portion of Scripture – stay apathetic
4. But, if you want to make a difference again, LET’S DO like the first century Christians did, and make it our priority
F. Let’s continue our reading, and see what else made these Christians so strong…
II. Message – Part Two
A. Godly Fear (Acts 2:43)
1. Acts 2:43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.
2. It is strange that people are afraid of fearing God
a. They are arrogant about their freedom from such fear
b. People, especially modern Christians don’t seem to worry about how GOD sees things
c. Proverbs 8:13 The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.
d. Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.
e. Proverbs 16:6 By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.
f. 1Peter 2:17 Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.
3. These men and women feared God
a. The first century Christians were much wiser and smarter than this generation of Christians…
b. They feared starting off wrong and bringing all their religious baggage with them into their new walk with Jesus
1) There are not any Jewish Christians
2) Or Catholic followers of Christ
3) Only sinners, born again by faith in Jesus Christ alone, who are committed to following Jesus according to the Bible – period!
c. They feared their own pride that had scattered them from Israel so many times before
4. Every soul in that church feared God in a healthy way!
5. And so should WE!
6. Fearing God is a good thing, healthy thing to do!
a. Prov 14:27 The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.
b. Prov 16:6 By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.
c. If you fear GOD, you have no need to fear anything else!
7. Do YOU fear God?
a. Do you fear what He is going to expose about YOUR life one day? Because He will!
1) If you are unsaved, you WILL face the Great White Throne Judgment of Almighty God one day, and then will be cast into a burning hell forever!
2) The born again child of God still faces the Judgment Seat of Christ, where we won’t be condemned, but we will be exposed
3) The hypocrisy, the secret sins, the emptiness of our worship
4) There is nothing hidden that shall not be uncovered (Mark 4:22) For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested; neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should come abroad.
b. We are in a serious business ladies and gentlemen! The Christian life is a battle for the souls of men and women!
c. It matters HOW we live, what we say, what we neglect to do!
d. We cannot take what we do lightly – flippantly
e. This is not just something we do on a Sunday – it is serious!
f. We need to fear backsliding, cooling off, blending in with the world
g. We need to fear tolerating sin in our homes and lives – it is killing our church!
h. We need to fear getting used to talking and acting like the filth of the world around us
i. Because judgment is still coming
j. And it WILL begin with US - in the household of God (1Peter 4:17) For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?
8. Proper, healthy fear makes for a GREAT Church!
B. Experiencing the Supernatural (Acts 2:43)
1. Acts 2:43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.
2. In the first century, there were many special signs and miracles done
a. Jesus started it – He constantly did the impossible!
b. And here now in Jerusalem was a continuation of the miracles done by Jesus
3. But the miracles were mainly done by the Apostles
a. Jesus gave His apostles the same power He had – He did not give those powers to everyone, but to just His twelve specially chosen apostles
b. Acts 2:43 many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.
c. Acts 3:6,7 Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he [PETER] took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.
d. Acts 4:33 And with great power gave THE APOSTLES witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all
e. Acts 19:11 And God wrought special miracles by the hands of… Paul
4. Today, the apostles are gone
a. There were only twelve apostles, and they finished up by 95 AD
b. I WISH we saw the same kind of miracles and signs and wonders again today – I do!
c. I wish there were still some apostles and miracle workers who could HEAL, and fix the deep physical problems in our homes and lives and bodies
5. But never forget that we DO experience the supernatural today in church…
a. Marriages being salvaged
b. Prodigal sons and daughters coming home
c. Hardened souls getting saved
d. Impossible answers to prayer
e. Addicts getting free from alcohol and drugs and gambling and porn
f. I think THOSE are pretty supernatural, don’t you?
g. You and I will one day be ashamed of how little we believed God for the impossible
6. Let’s be a church that believes God for everything that is hard and impossible (Matthew 19:26) But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
a. A healthy church experiences the impossible being done amongst us
b. It happens when WE get back to just believing the promises of God!
C. Meeting Needs (Acts 2:44,45)
1. Acts 2:44,45 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
2. They met each other’s needs - They ministered to each other's needs
a. They say each other as the same – not one higher or lower
b. They saw each other as family – brethren (no matter where they were from)
c. And they saw each other’s needs
1) They cared more about other people than their own possessions
2) When did that change?
3) They gladly gave to meet other Christian’s needs
4) They SOLD possessions so that they could meet each other's needs
3. They didn’t expect the government to take care of them!
4. Had all things common – so that they could met each other’s needs
a. This is NOT Communism – no one owns anything – everything is owned and controlled by the Government. You have no choice but to work for the government
b. This is NOT Socialism – where you are allowed to work for wealth, but the government decides how your wealth is distributed among everyone else. You have no say in it. Only higher and higher taxes
c. This is Biblical Christianity – you worked for your money and property, and you choose whether you keep it or give it away.
1) This is completely voluntary, and in response to need - not forced to give like in socialism and communism
2) In Christianity – we give because we want to, and because our hearts have been changed – because Christ asks us to
5. They were staying ready for Christ’s return
a. Busy soul-winning, preaching, praying, trusting God!
b. Not worried about real estate, or tomorrow.
c. WE Christians need to start living again like Jesus is coming back soon!
d. What do YOU have that has all your attention, and love, and care?
e. The people around you, and what they are going through are far more valuable
D. Unity (Acts 2:46) – such an important ingredient / gear in the system
1. Acts 2:46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
2. Accord – in harmony, agreement – no discord, or arguments, or fighting, or complaining
a. Three times said in just these two chapters…
b. First in Acts 1:14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.
c. Then in Acts 2:1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
d. And now HERE in Acts 2:46, they, continuing daily with one accord …
3. The Christian culture is supposed to be known by UNITY.
a. Under the authority of the word of God - Believing only the BIBLE gives us unity
b. By the enabling power of the Holy Spirit
1) We need the Holy Spirit to rule our hearts instead of bitterness and envy
2) We won’t stay together unless the Holy Spirit is in charge of our emotions and heart
c. And Christ’s love
1) Paul said we need to speak the truth, ladies and gentlemen… in love
2) Cover one another’s offenses against you, under the blood of Christ
d. It takes hard work to stay unified (Ephesians 4:2,3) With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
e. But unity is such a powerful force in a church, and in a marriage (Psalm 133:1-3)
1) Psalm 133:1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
2) Psalm 133:2 It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments;
3) Psalm 133:3 As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.
4. Do you even care to be in unity with the other believers in this church? Or do you walk away as soon as you are offended? Are you only here because I haven’t upset you yet?
E. Active Worship (Acts 2:47)
1. Notice what these new Christians were doing when they got together…
2. Acts 2:47 Praising God…
3. Worship by Christians is active and joyous and sometimes loud
4. NOT just sitting there like so many of you do on a Sunday
a. 2Chronicles 30:21 And the children of Israel that were present at Jerusalem kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with great gladness: and the Levites and the priests praised the LORD day by day, singing with loud instruments unto the LORD.
b. Psalm 98:4 Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.
5. Yes, we bow our heads in humility when we pray, but we also lift our voices in gratefulness and thanksgiving and praise to God when we worship!
6. There is a time to be quiet in the house of God, and there is a time to be joyful!
7. Let’s work on our worship!
a. A healthy church is known for its worship - not its entertainment, or its money, or its “atmosphere and lighting and music”
b. We need to be able to sing and worship Jesus even with heartaches and pain throbbing in the background
c. Church is ‘a house’ full of family, and singing, and worship, and praising God, and joy in its proper time!
d. Remember, the first and second century Churches were spread out through hundreds of house churches in every city – not in just one big, scary building!
F. A Good Testimony (Acts 2:47)
1. Acts 2:47 … and having favour with all the people.
2. The world is watching us!
a. We may not be on TV, but we are watched closer than we think!
b. People notice our gathering together, our attitudes, our late-ness, our joy, our singing, our families…
c. Do people see holiness in us, or do they just see the same as themselves?
d. Do they hear clean language, or the same filth that spews out of everyone else’s mouth?
3. A healthy church has a good testimony, and protects that testimony
a. Not of just the church as a group, but of each and every one of us
4. Because people outside need to see if Jesus really works!
5. Let’s make sure we care about what people see in us
6. And EARN the favour, the respect of those who have given up on God and the Bible
G. Lastly, there was Constant Growth (Acts 2:47)
1. Acts 2:47 … And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
2. New Testament Christianity grew DAILY
a. People got saved, and got baptized, were added to the local church every day!
3. Either we evangelise and win people to Christ, or we will fossilise
a. Every one of us know people who are lost and need a witness, a gospel tract, an invite to church
b. If ALL of us actually opened our mouths and just invited people to church, we would see people come and hear the Gospel and get saved all the time!
c. That is how I got saved!
4. Let’s see if we can’t start seeing people saved and baptized every day like it was back in Acts 2
a. Give just one tract away today
b. Invite just one person out to church next week
c. Don’t leave it up to just ME
A. Let’s Commit to all the steps to being a healthy Church…
1. Each person Accepting the Gospel – believing Jesus Christ alone for salvation!
a. HAVE YOU BELIEVED CHRIST DIED FOR YOU AND ROSE AGAIN FOR YOUR FORGIVENESS?
2. THEN getting baptized
a. HAVE YOU BEEN SCRIPTURALLY BAPTIZED?
3. Joining a Bible believing church
a. Are you in limbo, or a MEMBER OF THIS CHURCH?
b. Committed to this simple group like a family?
4. Let’s become steadfast in four big areas:
a. Learning Bible doctrine – we have Discipleship Courses
b. Staying together in a close Christian fellowship
c. Taking the Lord’s Supper seriously every time we can
d. And praying always
5. They had a healthy dose of the fear of the Lord
a. WE HAD BETTER TAKE WHAT WE DO AND WHO WE ARE SERIOUS
6. Let’s desire to regularly experience the impossible being done
a. This is not a social club
b. It is a spiritual hospital on a spiritual battlefield
c. And we need miracles
7. Let’s Meet Each Other’s Needs
8. Let’s Get Unified by living by the Bible
9. Actively Worship Jesus
10. Work on a Good Testimony
11. Seek constant Growth by everyone being a soul-winner
B. Are you in? Then get busy! Do something and make this church healthier and stronger than you found it!